PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Tom Watson, the British Open runner-up, Hale Irwin, the all-time Champions Tour money leader, and defending champion Jeff Sluman are among the pro field of 78 competing beginning Friday in the Walmart First Tee Open.
The 54-hole tournament, the only Champions Tour event played on two courses, will be held at Pebble Beach Golf Links and Del Monte Golf Course.
The sixth-annual event is also unique because each pro is paired with a junior player (ages 14-18) selected from regional chapters of the national First Tee program.
“At first, they (the juniors) are intimidated, afraid to show their personality,” said Sluman, who shot a final-round 67 last year en route to a 14-under 202 total and a victory in the event.
A six-time PGA Tour winner, Sluman has five top-10 finishes in 18 events, including second at the Legends of Golf in April. But Sluman, who’s 15th on the Champions Tour money list, hasn’t won this season.
Sluman is expected to play with comedian-actor Bill Murray, with fellow comedian-actor George Lopez also in the 156-player amateur field.
The pro field will include all former tournament winners as well as Jay Haas, Tom Kite, Nick Price, Gary Player, Fuzzy Zoeller and first-time entrants Tom Lehman and Greg Norman.
Watson finished tied for 30th last year in the First Tee Open.
“It’s not just about playing the game,” said Watson, an eight-time major tournament champion. “It’s about character. That’s the most important part of it.”
The field will alternate courses during the two rounds, with the final round Sunday at Pebble Beach including all pros, the top 22 juniors and top 10 amateurs teams advancing.
The pro winner will earn $315,000 of the $2.1 million purse.
Bernard Langer, who has four victories this season and leads the Champions Tour money list with $1,776,386 in 16 events, is not entered.